Craig Ford – It’s time to let the people vote

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There is no better form of government than democracy. Our founding fathers gave their lives just so we could have the right to vote and the right to govern ourselves.

Democracy is fundamental to being an American. We all have the right to be heard in our government. And when it comes to the state of Alabama, it’s time for the people to be heard on the lottery.

The last time the people of Alabama got to vote on a lottery was nearly two decades ago in 1999. A lot was wrong with that particular lottery proposal. But more importantly, a lot has changed in Alabama since then.

People who were just toddlers in 1999 would now be able to vote this time around. There are thousands of people who have come of voting age since 1999, and thousands more who moved here during those years.

For these reasons, the attitude on gaming and the lottery has changed. Now, even the most Republican voters overwhelmingly support a vote on the lottery.

The House and Senate Republican Caucuses had a poll commissioned last month. The result was that 77 percent of likely Republican voters supported letting the people vote on a lottery (62 percent supported creating a lottery, and 59 percent supported expanding gambling, including table games like blackjack and craps).

Democrats have called for a lottery since Don Siegelman was governor. I personally have proposed a lottery bill for the last seven years. This year, even some of the most anti-gambling Republican legislators are bringing their own lottery bill (while my lottery bill would put the money in education for scholarships, theirs doesn’t say where the money would go; the Republicans are proposing a “blank check lottery” that would allow the legislature to create a lottery later on).

Other Republican legislators have said they will kill any lottery bill if it comes up. I can understand why some legislators oppose the lottery. But I can’t understand why some oppose letting the people vote.

It’s time for the state legislature to get out of the people’s way and let the public decide the issue once and for all. It’s time to let the people vote!

State Rep. Craig Ford is a Democrat from Gadsden and the Minority Leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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